Adultery. AKA cheating, two-timing, having an affair, having a fling, a bit on the side, infidelity, being unfaithful, and probably another half dozen synonyms for what is essentially one of the most traumatic events which can happen in a marriage.
Adultery can be one of the most devastating events that a person may ever experience. And it is not that uncommon, unfortunately. Reliable statistics are impossible to gather, but estimates indicate somewhere around a third of marriages are affected by one or both spouse cheating on the other.
So let’s say the worst happens to you. You think your marriage is solid and happy for both you and your spouse. You are happily going through your days and somehow you discover evidence that all is not how you thought it was.
In the old days, the evidence might have been a paper receipt, a written note in a date book, an accidentally overheard conversation, but now adultery is much easier to hide, so it might take longer to discover your spouse is cheating.
Technology has enabled people who cheat on their spouses to more effectively hide their actions, but also to be discovered by spouses with a bit of savviness about social media.
And you have discovered, say, a series of texts and pics between your partner and someone else which clearly indicate that your marriage is not what you thought it was. Some people have discovered adulterous relationships on Facebook, Instagram and in other social media.
What to do, where to look
After the shock of discovery and the subsequent confrontation with your cheating partner, you both come to the decision that you want to save the marriage.
Never having been in the situation before, you may be a bit confused as to options and where to turn.
There are many resources on the subject of saving your marriage after infidelity: For a start, there are Youtube videos, podcasts, websites, and books.
The problem is that the quality of the information given can vary from balderdash and nonsense to useful and sensible, but being able to discern the differences may be difficult for some people, especially during this emotionally-charged time.
Two popular books that people turn to are-
Of course, there are your friends, religious people if you are observant, and there are professionals who are trained and experienced in helping people who are now experiencing or who have experienced adultery recently or in the past. These professionals go by different labels: marital counselors, marital therapists, marriage counselors, relationship therapists and other similar variations.
Turn to your BFFs
Friends can be a blessing during this trying time, but they can also give you potentially bad advice because they can’t be objective. They can be great for moral support and a shoulder to cry on.
But, often times it may be better to seek a professional marriage counselor to see if you can and should get your marriage back on track.
Choosing the professional option
You and your spouse have decided to seek professional help to see how you can both overcome the huge hurt that has happened. How do you go about choosing a professional who can help you both get over the adultery?
Before you even begin looking, be certain that both partners are committed to really putting the time and attention needed for repairing the marriage with the help of a professional. If you both aren’t committed, you are wasting time and money.
Things to consider
This is, of course, a very difficult time, and making the important decision to seek counseling is not easy.
But having made that decision, these are some things you should consider when looking for a marriage counselor who can help you after adultery has entered your marriage.
- The credentials of the counselor. Look up what all those initials mean (after the therapist’s name).
- When you call the therapist’s office, ask questions. If the office staff is reluctant to give full answers, take that as a red flag warning.
- How long has the marital therapist been practicing? Are they experienced in issues relating to adultery?
- Ask the price. Is it per session? Is there a sliding scale? Does your insurance cover any of the costs?
- How long is each session? Is there a typical number of sessions?
- Do you both want individual therapists or a joint therapist or both? In some instances, couples start out with individual therapists and then go to a joint therapist.
- If you are going to a joint therapist, will that person be impartial? A marriage counselor should show empathy for both individuals so as to encourage meaningful and productive dialogue.
- Does the marriage counselor subscribe to one individual theory of reconciliation and healing or are they open to a more individualized type of adultery counseling?
What comes next?
You and your spouse have made the important decision to see a marital counselor. What should you expect in the time you spend with the counselor?
Typically, the marital therapist will want to know the history of your relationship from both partners as a starting point. Both spouses will discuss what they think led up to the infidelity and why they think it occurred.
This will probably be an emotionally draining experience, but it is important so that both partners can move forward and regain trust.
Sessions should not be shouting matches with the counselor acting as a referee. Instead, the counselor should ask thoughtful questions which draw out feelings and emotions and create an environment where each partner feels free to speak.
One goal of this adultery counseling is so that trust can be rebuilt into the relationship. When–and if–that takes place, the couple is well on the way to a true reconciliation.
A good therapist will work with the couple to examine old habits and patterns to see if any of these contributed to the adultery.
Once the couple is aware of the potential pitfalls that falling back into some of the old ways present, they can both work hard to avoid the sorts of behaviors which led to the infidelity.
How does it end?
There is no set amount of time that marital counseling has to take. Each couple is different, as is each therapist. A therapist will give you some idea of the progress you are making as you work through your marital problems with him or her. Ultimately and ideally, adultery counseling to help a couple work through the betrayal of cheating will lead the couple to a deeper commitment of trust, honor, and love.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.